Monday, May 30, 2011

Wolverton in its Prime - 2 The Workshops

Wolverton Works - Eastern End
The original Engine Shed of 1838 was the square taken up by (27) Fitting Shop, (28) Wheel Turning Shop, (35) Gas Fitters Shop, (36) Brass Finishing Shop, (37) Brake Shop.

The first expansion was on the east side of the line (45). This was later expanded to include the whole triangle with (47). Building No 48 was the site of the Reading Room.

The next stage of expansion was south of the Stratford Road with newer engine sheds at 49. The second station buildings 43 and 44 have been adapted. Building 42, the accumulator shop was a later building. The terrace on the north side of Glyn Square was demolished to build a laundry (41). The laundry building later became part of the Training School in the 1950s.

Northern expansion began in 1855 when the three northernmost streets were demolished. Buildings (29)  Forge, and (31) Iron Foundry are on this site. North of the canal, on the embankment, buildings (32) Tin Shop and (34) Lifting Shop, were built in the 1880s when the Park was developed on the site of the Radcliffe Arms. The third (and last) Gas Works was at this time sited on the Old Wolverton Road. (52)

Bury Street and Gas Street were finally demolished in the 1890s to make way for (25) Bogie Shop, (26) General Stores and 38) Tool Rooms, (39) Testing Room. The General Offices (40) were built over the former site of the first Gas Works.

Probably at this stage of development the famous or infamous wall (depending on your point of view) was built to extend from McCorquodales to the Reading Room.

The Forge (29) and Smithy (19) date from the 1860s. The carpenters Shop (15) and Sawmill (14) are later.

At the Main Entrance there is the Time Office (21) and Canteen (22). Lower down are the Underframe shops (16 and 17), the Electrical Shop (18) and two Polishing Rooms (23 and 24). It should be noted that electricity was still a very new thing and even new houses in Wolverton were still supplied with gas lighting.

In the 1870s two of the villas were demolished to build a new paint shop (49)

At the far western end, once the  works was able expand, most of the new buildings here were given over to timber storage and preparation. Wood was an important component in carriage building back then and the level of craftmanship was held to be very high. Buildings (1,2,4 and 8) are for timber storage and drying.
Buildings (6) for carriage repairs and (7) was a wheel and axle shop.

Everything about the carriages and wagons built in Wolverton, from the wheels an chassis to the lettering was done behind the wall. This was a feature of manufacturing at the time. All was done "in house". The idea of sourcing components from outside was foreign to the Victorian mind and did not begin to take root until after WW II. The idea was to keep close control over the production and therefore the quality. Thus Works the size of Wolverton were essential to create the product. Today this massive industrialization is a thing of the past.

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